Thomas Haden Church
A native of the Lone Star state, Thomas Haden Church began life as Thomas Richard Quesada on June 17, 1960. The third of six children, Church graduated from Harlingen High School and earned a degree in Radio, Film and Television from the University of North Texas. The first job Church landed after college was as a deejay for KBFM, a local radio station in Brownsville, TX. Hoping to segue into acting, Church signed with a commercial agent who scored him voiceover work. After hawking such products as Icehouse Beer and Merrill Lynch Securities for a couple of years, Church moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting full-time. During the mid-to-late 1980s, Church worked sporadically as a guest star on such popular series as "21 Jump Street" (Fox, 1987-1991), "Booker" (Fox, 1989-1990), "Cheers" (1982-1993) and "China Beach" (ABC, 1988-1991), but the actor's life forever changed when he won an audition for a new NBC pilot called "Wings." Reportedly reduced to tears by Church's unexpectedly bone-dry, baritone delivery, producers promptly hired Church as their resident handyman/mechanic, Lowell. An oblivious, but well-meaning dunderhead, Church often served as the show's most reliable comic relief. With his hapless expression, bad luck, and never-ending list of eccentricities, it was not long before Lowell became a fan favorite.Despite his popularity, Church left "Wings" following its sixth season after rival Fox offered him his own sitcom. The result was the short-lived "Ned and Stacey" (Fox, 1995-97) a romantic comedy that co-starred a pre-"Will & Grace" Debra Messing. In a noticeable departure from the likeable Lowell, Church played Ned Dorsey, an egomaniacal advertising executive who would do anything to advance his career. Messing played Stacey Colbert, as a journalist in desperate need of a place to live. The premise of the show was that the two entered into a marriage of convenience. Ned needed a wife to get promoted, while Stacey needed a place to live. As the series progressed, Ned and Stacey's constant bickering slowly evolved into something resembling a romance. Unfortunately, the show was axed before this plot could be further fleshed out.After the cancellation of "Ned and Stacey," Church made a decision to put his career on the back burner to spend more time with his family. Moving to a sprawling cattle ranch in Texas, Church focused his energies into writing a script. What came of it eventually was "Rolling Kansas" (2003), a lighthearted road movie about a trio of brothers on a quest to find a mythical field of marijuana somewhere in the sprawling plains of Kansas. In the meantime, Church continued to act occasionally just to pay the bills. Among the films Church appeared in during this period were "3000 Miles to Graceland" (2001), "Monkeybone" (2001) and "Lone Star State of Mind" (2002). Interestingly, Church was at one point close to landing the part of Randall Hertzel in the hit Jack Nicholson comedy, "About Schmidt" (2002). Although he ended up losing the part to actor Dermot Mulroney, "Schmidt" director Alexander Payne was so impressed by Church's audition that he vowed to use the actor in his next film.True to his word, in 2003, Payne paid a visit to Church at his Texas ranch to offer him the part of Jack Lapote, the womanizing best friend of Paul Giamatti's character in "Sideways" (2004). The story of two friends who embark on a week-long road trip to California's Santa Ynez Valley, the film was a bittersweet cabernet comedy. Hoping to give his old friend, the soon-to-be-married Jack, a classy send-off, Miles (Giamatti) plans a pleasant weekend of golfing, drinking and male bonding. But the skirt-chasing Jack has other plans in mind. Intent on having one final fling before his wedding day, Jack seduces Stephanie (Sandra Oh). Despite his character's caddish behavior, Church's unexpectedly sympathetic portrayal of Jack moved audiences to forgive him. The role won Church his first Oscar nod for Best Supporting Actor.With that added piece of prestige under his, his belt, Church chose to follow-up with something decidedly more commercial. In 2007, director Sam Raimi recruited Church as his next arch-villain in "Spider-Man 3." To prepare for the role of Flint Marko, a.k.a. the Sandman, Church put in 16 months at the gym. Beefing up considerably, the actor added several pounds of muscle to his lean 5'11" frame. The final result, when combined seamlessly with CGI, was the most visually spectacular Spidey menace then to date. Commercially released in the U.S. on May 4, 2007, "Spider-Man 3" premiered in a record-setting 4,253 theaters and over 50 IMAX theaters nationwide, earning an estimated $148 million its opening weekend. Back on the small screen, Church co-starred in the AMC western, "Broken Trail" (2006-07), playing the nephew of an old cowboy (Robert Duvall) trying to help five Chinese women kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery find safe harbor. For his work in the telefilm, Church won his first Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie.